Newton County

Charges dropped against Georgia man who shot at suspects to protect his home

NEWTON COUNTY, Ga. — A Georgia man found himself in handcuffs after protecting his home from intruders, he said.

“After a while you can’t take no more, you know,” Steven Bannister told Channel 2′s Matt Johnson.

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Bannister said he, his wife and child were living in fear after multiple car break-ins in their own driveway.

“At that point, you know, when you feel helpless, you have to help yourself,” he said.

So in August 2018, the Army veteran shot someone who had broken into his car yet again on Crooked Creek Way in Covington.

Body camera video from the Newton County Sheriff’s Office shows the bullet holes on the driver-side window.

The teen suspect and two others were arrested – but so was Bannister.

“Still doesn’t make any sense,” he said. “Defending my family, my home and charged.”

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The Newton County Sheriff’s Office charged him with two counts of aggravated assault and two other felonies.

Bannister said it cost him his job.

“Because I got charged with the case, they let me go,” he said.

But Bannister always believed he was acting in self-defense.

“Why is it that my client didn’t get the benefit of the doubt,” Attorney Chris Howard said.

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Chris Howard with Mitnick and Howard – The Bulldog Firm, took the case and filed a self-defense motion.

Monday, four years later, the Alcovy Circuit Court district attorney took steps to stop prosecuting and drop the charges.

“They made the right decision – they decided that my client was protecting his home, and that that was protected by Georgia law,” Howard said.

The NCSO tells me the case was handled by the district attorney’s office after the arrest.

The district attorney told Channel 2 he can’t comment until the case is officially closed.

Bannister and his wife have moved to a new county, ready to defend themselves again if necessary.

“You have to put your loved ones first,” wife Stephanie Bannister said. “Your home has to be a place of safety.”

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